I talk to a couple of people this week about how rapidly the end of our undergraduate careers approaches. Finals flatten out the jagged and uncertain landscape of my first summer not studying in three years. I let the paper and the coffee and the highlighting wash over me and surround me intensely once a semester. Four times a year if you count the summer. It’s painful each time in certain ways, but its almost like a refuge. I get to be a complete mess for two to three weeks every four months. I get to show up with pen on my face, and looking like I really need a haircut. You also become closer with those who you experience these periods of time with.
Today I go grocery shopping 8 days before my last assignment is due. I stock up on coffee, energy drinks, a mix of microwaveable food and soup, all the stereotypical things students buy at the end of a semester minus the ramen that’s not even real ramen—I don’t think I’ve ever had real ramen, have I?. I meal-prep too early and don’t prep enough. I prep 20 days before my last assignment is due. I only make enough for five days. I open each jar of soup I make today 12 days ago and didn’t eat; the soup I made 20 days before the end of the semester. I pour the contents of each jar down the sink while I run the water. I clog the sink even though the soup was blended. My kitchen light blows out 1 day ago. My kitchen light blew out 9 days before the end.
After I go grocery shopping on that 8th day, I take a permanent marker and cue cards outside with me, I smoke two cigarettes and write on 3 separate cards:
8 Days!!! –> H.B.A
To Do –> Graduate!: “list of things to do”.
I go back inside and take a name brand roll of scotch tape with broken cutting teeth, rip and attach each cue card across the top of a computer monitor that I no longer have the computer for. I decide that I need to speak in the imperative to myself in addition to the declarative so I take a blue highlighter (I think that the other cards are too bland), write “Don’t give up!” on another cue card and tape it to a speaker on the desk.
I create a studying playlist on Spotify and sign up for the free trial of “Premium” so I don’t have to listen to the ads.
I spend a good deal of time researching the best screen settings for reading on a computer screen. I find out that scrolling while reading is bad for your eyes.
I think about putting in my two months notice so I can move back home by July, I want to spend most of my time with my dogs this summer at my family’s farm. I also need an apartment closer to school next year.
While typing this, 8 days till the end of the semester, I think about the 2 and half years I spend in this apartment.
I think about the time 1 year and 183 days ago that I decide to remove an empty industrial cable-spool from the curb of the condo complex under construction across the street and repurpose it into a coffee table.
I think about how I convinced Sean and Rachel to help me while they were watching Netflix, and how I ended up pushing/rolling something that was much heavier than it looked up the stairs mostly by myself. We laugh at the process as it occurs 548 days ago (it’s a leap year this year).
I think about how the spool grows much larger than its original size once it’s inside my apartment.
I think about the time Sean carves a surprisingly well-proportioned face of a cat into the flat surface of the spool a few days later. It is too big to be a coffee table so it becomes a hybrid between a shelf and a desk. I struggle to carve the date legibly into the wood. Melissa, I think, carves a heart into it. I do not remember. I think about how this is happening around the second time she leaves.
It’s become a little more than 1 year since the last conversation I had with Sean, its been seven years since we became friends.
I think about the 3 separate weeks following 3 separate oral surgeries in one semester. I remember constantly having the taste of salt mixed with water in my mouth, I wish it felt more like I was near the ocean. And I remember the taste of Ensure. For 7 days after each surgery I follow the instructions of my Percocet prescription. I never understood the math behind some of the prescriptions for narcotics I got after those surgeries. I remember feeling like a pain had been lifted that I forgot was there or I had decided to pretend wasn’t.
I remember laughing hysterically with Sean over how itchy the Percocet made my legs. I remember laughing at a lot of things with Sean. I remember 2 full years of my undergrad with at least 2 of the same classes together, sometimes 3.
I remember living at 368 Spadina Crescent in first year. I remember the shitty carpet and the cheap rent. I remember Sean’s tiny apartment above Simon Sushi, and building a computer for him in his tiny kitchen listening to Purity Ring’s first album, I was obsessed. I remember going to Red Room and reading the little Signet Classics edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets for the poetry class Sean and I have together, I think about feet, and iambs, and trochees, pentameter, cheap beer, fried tofu. I think about the hundreds of movies we watched both at home and while studying cinema together.
I think about the night 2 summers ago Julie and I climb the scaffolding the construction crew had set up leading to the top of the central tower of 1 Spadina Crescent . I remember us looking south for a while down Spadina. The pavement and the streetcar tracks, the sidewalks, the lights and the cars they belonged to seemed to be moving out of our way. I remember lying down on the metal grated platform around the top of the arch. I remember the verdigris of the copper, the deep shadows inside of the lancet arches. I remember our voices and I remember her face.
I try to purposely mix my tenses and play with numbers here because the distance between the times the tenses designate can feel hard to discern when you feel like everything is about to change. Change is good though, I think I’m ready for it. I hope I am.